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The EMULSIVE x ILFORD PHOTO Community Interview: submit your questions


Hot on the heels of our recent EMULSIVE x Lomography Community Interview, we’re back with another member of the film photography industry eager for your questions.

This time, it’s young industry upstart ILFORD PHOTO and this is your chance to ask them your burning questions.  Interested? Read on below.

 

ILFORD who?

You know, ILFORD PHOTO (not to be confused with Ilford Imaging). If you paid attention to last year’s FP4+ review, you’ll know that ILFORD have been making photographic films and related products for over 135 years. In fact, their first ISO/ASA 400 film in 35mm format was released in the same year as Kodak’s Tri-X (1954). Granted that at the time, ILFORD HPS was a full stop faster!

It’s no secret that ILFORD and Kodak have been snapping at each other’s respective heels for decades; and today’s black and white film landscape has largely been shaped by a professional rivalry built on providing the best performing film and materials to both professionals and consumers alike.

Whilst we’re left with much calmer waters today, that doesn’t mean things are at a standstill. Not at all.

 

 

Timeline

As per our introductory article, this interview will be presented in three parts:

 

Part one: Call for submissions (this article)

The submission window is open from today until June 1st 2016.

This is your chance to have a think about what kind of questions you want to ask to ILFORD and submit them in the comments section below.The comments section of this article is the only place we will be accepting questions.

Please keep your questions concise and limit yourself to a single question per comment. You may post two comments each.

Only new, parent comments will be considered for entry, so please don’t add yours as a reply if you want a chance to have yours featured.

When doors close on June 1st 2016, we’ll be locking the thread and our panel will be tasked with whittling down your submissions to roughly ten questions (more on the panel in a bit).

 

Part two: Handover

The submission window will close on June 1st 2016, at which point the panel will come together to deliberate. A shortlist of questions and commentary will then be passed over to ILFORD for review.

We’ll be working with ILFORD to put together a finished article as soon as possible after the submission window closes.

 

Part three: Release

We’re expecting to have the finished interview released toward the end of June and beginning of July 2016. If you posted a question that made the cut, you’ll be credited in the finished piece. There may be other things to announce here but we’ll leave that until closer to the time.

 

 

Interview structure and panel

The panel shortlist will consist of ~10 questions submitted by you, the film photography community, two questions from yours truly and one each from the panel. It’s the job of the panel to help make the final decision as to which of the questions submitted will make the cut for the final piece, as well as to discuss, review and revise the final interview before it’s released.

Why go to the trouble of selecting a panel?

We want to alleviate any concerns regarding impartiality and bias and make the process transparent. Anyone can be a panel member for future Community Interviews, all you need do is ask.

Speaking of the panel, here they are:

Craig Pindell @cpindell1
(Read Craig’s EMULSIVE interview)

Jo Farrell @JoFarrellPhoto
(Read Jo’s EMULSIVE interview)

Sandeep Sumal @givemeabiscuit
(Read Sandeep’s EMULSIVE interview)

 

 

Starting questions

The questions below form only the beginning of this Community Interview and can be added to, or expanded upon with your own. Please be careful not to repeat, or post similar questions to the ones below, as you entry will likely be discarded. Here’s what we have to start things off:

 

Craig: The ILFORD name has been associated with top quality products for as long as I have been a photographer, and in nearly 40 years, I have never had a quality issue with any ILFORD product. Kudos for maintaining that incredible record. You have also been able to survive in a very tough market where other companies have gone bankrupt and left the marketplace – more kudos to you!

Not all of your products suit my photography, but due to the range of products you offer, I have found the materials that fit my vision and style. I am wondering if there are new products in the works, or perhaps some expansion of current offerings (Pan F + in sheet film?), or if you are standing pat with what you offer now?

Is there any chance that you may venture into color film and paper at some point?

 

Jo: To many people black and white film and paper is synonymous with the name ILFORD. As the predominant B&W film manufacturer worldwide, what are your plans to engage and inspire the resurgence of analogue users? It appears that ILFORD is more reactive than transformational in engaging its audience. Have you thought about creating an ILFORD community — along the lines of engaging and utilising photographers work, thoughts, and ideas — through publication of users work? (I have seen this incorporated into Hasselblad, BBC, CNN, Nat Geo and the Guardian websites). Perhaps a lecture series (which you used to do in the 1940s), exhibitions and sponsorship?

Any plans to revive one or all of your newsletter/magazine or book series (such as The ILFORD Courier 1934; ILFORD Message 1936; ILFORD News; Panchromatism; Picture Beautiful Britain 1951, Flower identification books, and the Winter and Night Photography book).

And finally, when will the “Master of Photography” book (10th edition was 2010) be updated? How does ILFORD plan to drive actions and reactions from its core users and engage new ones? How will they adapt to a growing global community of connectivity? What customer engagement strategies will they implement in the near future?

 

Sandeep: Harman Technology (manufacturer of ILFORD PHOTO) was purchased by Pemberstone Ventures Ltd, a U.K. based investment company last year. It was good to hear the CEO of Pemberton talk about the potential of analogue photography and your CEO talk about a five year plan.

Generally and maybe unfairly, it is normally perceived that an investment company is only looking for returns for its investors and a sale – at profit – at some point in the future. Given that some time has now passed for Pemberstone to start work with you as a business partner, are you able to share any insights into how ILFORD will be looking to move forward to grow and to connect with film photographers of all ages, plus any reassurance for this group who have seen (from other manufacturers), film stock after film stock discontinued and prices continuously rise.

 

EMULSIVE: For many years now you have run an annual ULF ordering window to allow your customers to purchase special order runs of your films. Thank you. Can you see yourselves expanding this concept into pre-orders, or crowdfunding projects focused on film in formats you do not currently produce? For example, I’d personally love to see SFX in sheet film form. There are many recent examples of crowdsourcing successes in the film photography space from the likes of Cinestill, Galaxy and of course, Lomography; and in my personal opinion, any such project from ILFORD would generate significant interest.

 

EMULSIVE: The switch to the PLUS versions of HP5 and FP4 was nearly 30 years ago (1989 and 1990 respectively). To the best of my knowledge, HP5+ was specifically an answer to Kodak’s Tri-X 400 update and an attempt to provide better flexibility for push processing for the all important “Fleet Street” crowd. Given the decline in volumes of film being used for traditional print media do you feel that there’s still room to make enhancements to the existing formulae of these and your other films? Can you talk us through enhancements to these stocks over the years, that we may not be familiar with?

 

 

Next steps and guidelines

Doors for your submissions are open until June 1st 2016 and the only way to submit your question is in the comments section below.

1) Questions are not subject to moderation at this stage but you are asked to keep them civil and in the spirit of the community.

2) Any question deemed to be hostile or not encouraging reasonable discussion will be removed and the poster will be banned from future participation. In short, we’re all here for the same thing, so don’t be a troll.

3) Please prepend your submission with, “Question:”. For example: “Question: Why are you called Ilford?”

4) Submitted questions may be edited down into smaller chunks or merged with others if we feel there’s a need to do so. This being said, all questions will be submitted in their original form for ILFORD to answer.

5) If two or more very similar questions are posted, we will endeavour to credit the first person who posted it.

6) If we feel that two or more questions can be combined without losing their original value, we’ll credit each submitter as required.

These guidelines are by no means exhaustive but you can be assured that we’ll keep everything as transparent as possible during the process — see the EMULSIVE x Lomography interview for an example of how this finished interview might appear.

Over to you, let’s see what you’ve got.

~ EMULSIVE

 


About The Author

EMULSIVE

Self confessed film-freak and filmphotography mad-obsessive. I push, pull, shoot, boil and burn film everyday, and I want to share what I learn. It might not all be right but it's a start.

27 Comments

  1. Have you got any plans to create any color film or paper? have you tried securing the rights and equipment for restarting ilfochrome?

    Reply
  2. Expanding on Craig’s starter question: I’ve read in forums that there’s a technological reason Pan F Plus doesn’t work in sheet film format. Could you explain (science-y details welcome!) exactly what the barriers are, and if you have considered investing in R+D to make it possible? The lack of availability of my favorite emulsion in sheets is part of the reason I don’t make more effort to use my LF cameras and I’d love to understand better why it is that way and if it can be changed…

    Reply
  3. @ILFORDPhoto Looking forward to this. Now, what would I ask, hmmm….

    Reply
  4. @ILFORDPhoto amazing. So looking forward to this.

    Reply
  5. Question: I’ve used your fiber multi-grade silver gelatin paper nearly exclusively for 15 years. Over the years, there have been occasional reformulations which have sometimes changed the contrast properties of the paper (and the way the paper responds to filters). I split filter when I print and take notes on my exposure times; a change in a paper’s properties means I can’t use my notes and need to start from scratch when reprinting an image. What drives the decision to reformulate a paper?

    Reply
    • Question: Any plans on releasing an iso 200 version of Ilford XP2? ISO 400 is great for indoors/flash scenes, but is kind of overkill on outdoor scenes in sunshine, I find. I love XP2!

      Reply
  6. @ILFORDPhoto I see @cpindell1 came out of the gate swinging with the $64 question right away.

    Reply
  7. Question: With Fuji abandoning the pack film business, any chance that Ilford might consider manufacturing an alternative to instant pack film?

    Reply
  8. When you brought over the Kentmere line you successfully shifted the manufacture of all of the great Kentmere papers with the exception of one. I know you tried, but the Kentmere printing out paper was such a unique and beautiful product, there literally isn’t anything like it elsewhere on the market. Would there ever be a possibility of bringing a printing out paper back into production?

    Reply
  9. What are you thinking about alternative processes? I know POP papers are a thing of the past but pre prepared cyanotype papers might be a nice step in for new photographers. Maybe contact printing negatives from your pinhole cameras for example.
    Lith developers are also of interest!

    Reply
  10. In the United States, “Millennials” age 18-34 are now the largest generation in the history of the country. This age segment is expected to increase in size over the next several years. What are some of your current thoughts relative to creating and capturing U.S. based Millennials as a new generation of film photographers and ultimately Ilford customers?

    Reply
  11. What with the resurgent interest in photo paper negatives is there any chance that a special paper, designed to use as a paper negative, could be marketed. The challenges in using paper as a negative are excessive contrast, slow speed, and narrow latitude. Is it possibile to even make such a paper to address these issues and if so, would Ilford be interested in developing this type of product?

    Reply
  12. What is the relationship between Ilford UK and Ilford Lab US where I send my Ilford products to be developed?

    Reply
  13. Expanding a little bit one of the panel’s question, I want to say that I’ve really appreciated your annual ULF ordering window, but I want to understand if there is room for improvements on that. I was really really excited when discovered that I’m still able to order an entire roll of my favorite old 127 format but then got disappointed when realized that back paper was not included. Additionally, as the order can only be placed via your local distributors, there was no idea about the minimum order quantity achievement, so no idea if the order can been placed or not. Indeed this take me out from placing my order. So, the question: there is any chance to have these rolls with the paper? (for sure without the frame numbers, but only with placeholders)? This for sure will help this community (and your company) to keep those beautiful film formats alive!

    Reply
  14. Question: You have recently reformulated the Multigrade FB paper creating the new Multigrade FB Classic that shows improved linearity. Are there plans to also update the emulsion of Multigrade RC paper as well?

    Reply
  15. Based on my personal work experience, I well know that behind the scenes of your little carton box (means final product on the shelves) that we love so much, there is a lot and tremendous work that make it possible! Can you tell us a little bit about your production and R&D plants? How many you have? Where they are located? Which type of production equipment and processes do you have? How many test do you perform on you films? Please share we all of us your magical production moments and special people that really make the difference!

    Reply
  16. I used your card Ilford MG Art 300 for some of my prints, with great satisfaction. In some cases I have heard that the paper, although excellent, could not clearly competing with a hand-made paper and emulsified with one of various liquid emulsions on the market. But from my point of view it is still a paper that offers a great opportunity for photographers who are starting to approach new materials, in projects where not only the image, but also the texture and beauty of paper itself, make the important work proposed. What I think I missed a little bit by Ilford, is a broader view of what can be achieved with this type of sensitive paper, for example, with proper toning of the card. It might be useful then to think of a kind of collaboration between those who use this type of paper, and those who use it (eg this could be helpful conveyed a kind of community via social networks)? By Ilford is there the will to start thinking about proposing even more advanced procedures that go beyond the simple development of the paper (by saying this I also think the other cards, actually), as tonings or other?

    Reply
  17. Two questions relating to Delta 3200, my new favorite black and white film:

    1) Why is 35mm Delta 3200 nearly double the price of 120mm (or HP5 in 35mm)?

    2) Can we get Delta 3200 in large format, particularly in 4×5? Please?

    Reply
  18. Question: I’m an avid lover of the less appreciated formats, 110 and 126 especially. Is there any chance or opportunity for Ilford to branch out into these formats in the future?

    Reply
  19. Question1: It wil be great if you can share any current or future plans for low iso sheet film like maybe a Delta 25?

    Question2: Why are film choices so limited in ULF productions? Why is there an HP5 and not Delta 100 for 3×4 film? What are considerations if any to decide what stock to offer for a particular annual custom ULF size

    Reply
  20. This question comes out of curiosity based on my own experience with many different materials over the years and has to do with latent image keeping properties of different films. Some films seem able to keep a stable latent image for a very long time, months years, even decades. Kodak Plus-X is one that is almost legendary in this regard. On the other end of the spectrum is one of my favorite films, Pan-F, which seems to have a latent image stability that is quite short, with a noticeable loss of density after 3 months or so. I understand it’s always best to develop films promptly, and I rarely if ever intentionally try to rely on a film’s latent image keeping. That said, I wonder if you could explain in laypersons terms why emulsions differ in this regard? Is there an aspect to the formulation of emulsions that you could share with us? As I said this comes from just a curious interest to know more about the materials I use and is certainly not intended to be a negative comment or complaint about the beautiful Pan-F.

    Reply
  21. Question: How do you handle a company of that age and status and still have room for improvements and innovation?

    Reply
  22. Question: I have been looking for a while for 120 format cut lenght reels, but couldn’t find any. Will it be possible to have regularly available a 120 film format in cut lengths? Cost is an issue in particular when experimenting or revitalizing old cameras.

    Reply
  23. I strongly believe in analog photography, I believe in it as a form of expression. And I’d like it to be more widespread. question: would it be possible to organize educational workshops of your products in most European countries? You could ask for support to major stores and get the location where to do them…

    Reply
  24. The Titan cameras intrigue me. Any plans to introduce a version that can mount glass lenses?

    Reply
  25. Question: I was wondering how film sales have been over, say, the past 5-10 years? Are there any film stocks/formats that are increasing in sales? Or, decreasing enough to be at risk of discontinuation?

    Reply
  26. As a lecturer in Further Education in the UK, I enjoy using many of your excellent products with my students. A highlight this year has been introducing students to the 5×4 format using your Titan pinhole camera. This simple and robust camera is great for students to use, and we have exposed both paper and film.

    Looking at the current photography market there is an appetite for innovative products with a retro leaning. I’m thinking of Impossible Project’s new I-1 camera, as well as the success of various digital cameras that pay homage to historical forebears. It strikes me that there may be room in the market for a well-designed and affordable large format camera. Indeed some successful Kickstarter projects attest to this.

    Would Ilford consider making such a camera? It would be great to see a model that could give a ‘taste’ of large format without necessarily adhering to the technical standards of the existing market. Perhaps something that could be explored through the partnership with Walker Cameras, and that may draw on Ilford’s own tradition of camera making (the Advocate, Craftsman, Prentice, and now latterly Titan).

    Reply

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